UK

Jeremy Corbyn Playing 'Political Football With Grenfell Tower Fire', Sajid Javid Says

But Javid is himself accused of 'shifting blame'.

04/07/2017 18:54 BST | Updated 04/07/2017 19:27 BST

Sajid Javid has accused of Jeremy Corbyn of playing “political football” with the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Communities Secretary said the Labour leader had politicised the tragedy that killed at least 80 people, when he said “austerity and cuts played their part” in causing it.

Javid’s attack comes as he was accused of shifting blame for the blaze onto councils in a speech to local Government leaders.

In a Channel 4 News interview to be broadcast tonight, Javid told Jon Snow: “I’m afraid that Jeremy Corbyn has treated this like a bit of political football and that is a shame.

WPA Pool via Getty Images
Jeremy Corbyn comforts a woman made homeless by the Grenfell fire

“As the prime minister said in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s comment: Let’s all be honest. Let’s be honest with the public. That’s what the public deserve.”

“There have been mistakes and the enquiry will probably show this under successive governments of all political colours in both local government and national government and if we are truly to learn the lessons of this, there’s no point in kicking this around as some kind of football.

“It’s actually understanding and being honest about what’s gone wrong.”

Javid also confirmed in the interview that cladding from 190 high rises had failed fire safety tests the Government had ordered since the Grenfell fire.

He added: “Still samples are coming in but in terms of what happens next it’s very important that as soon as those housing associations are informed of having the wrong type of cladding, that they with their local fire rescue service immediately take action.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters
Sajid Javid, pictured visiting the scene of the Grenfell fire, said Corbyn was using the tragedy as a 'political football'

“They do what is necessary to make those buildings safe. That means removing the cladding.

“Of course that is what is expected of them, that is what they must do, but can’t do it overnight.”

Javid was condemned by the Local Government Association for a speech he gave to the body earlier on Tuesday, in which he said local Government faced a “looming crisis of trust” and its performance was “not good enough”.

The LGA’s Labour leader Nick Forbes told The Mirror the speech was “blame-shifting”.

“The government know their failure to address the previous failings in building regulations, their decade of cuts to local authorities and fire services, their attempts to run down and sell off social housing, have all contributed to this crisis,” Forbes, who leads Newcastle City Council, added.

“As he was giving the speech I could see the jaws of Tory councillors drop around me at the outrageous attack he made on the whole of local government.

“In effect he tried to tar everyone with the failings of Kensington and Chelsea Council which of course was a flagship Tory authority.

“There was a palpable sense of anger in the room and it went down like a bucket of cold sick.”